I’ll keep it short considering that this is destined to be a disappointing game basically regardless of the outcome. If Portland wins that’s good, they need a win. But should they beat this Cavaliers team, a team with a bad record that Portland should beat rather easily, we’ll just be reminded of the last few games against bad teams that the Blazers didn’t win. If Portland doesn’t win? Well it will test that theory that this season can’t get any worse.
You know the old saying: Full me once, shame on you. Full me twice, shame on me? I was fooled once into thinking Portland was going to beat the Pistons. I was fooled twice when I thought the Blazers would get a victory against the formerly winless Washington Wizards. I’m about to be fooled thrice, because I really think Portland is going to win Saturday’s game in Cleveland.
It’s not about the Cavs, or the match-ups. It’s about Portland. It’s about the Blazers deciding they want to show up and play like a basketball team. They haven’t done it yet on this trip. The Detroit and Washington losses were one kind of embarrassing. The Boston loss was another. The Blazers played tight against two bad teams, they got down early, and they couldn’t recover. Against Boston, Portland got smacked down. They got abused. They were made to look like a JV team getting run around by the Varsity in a scrimmage. Hopefully the hit they took in Boston woke this team up. Hopefully that wake up call will be enough to get a much-needed win in Cleveland.
Blazers Starting 5: PG Damian Lillard, SG Wesley Matthews, SF Nicolas Batum, PF LaMarcus Aldridge, C J.J. Hickson
Cavaliers Starting 5: PG Jeremy Pargo, SG Dion Waiters, SF Alonzo Gee, PF Tristan Thompson, C Anderson Varejao
The Cleveland Cavaliers are a young team that has had a rough couple of seasons. They also have a young superstar in the making that made them one of the bad teams to watch last season and one of the teams on the come-up this season. That superstar in the making however, Kyrie Irving, is currently out for a month with a broken finger, and without him the Cavs have been less than stellar.
Cleveland is vulnerable, especially considering that they’re coming off a decent win in Atlanta against the Hawks. Of course, though, the Cavs will look at Portland as team in turmoil that can be taken advantage of. Avoiding the pitfalls that come with facing a bad team on a high from a big win is going to be a very important thing for the Blazers to do.
That means getting out ahead, playing defense, being smart with the ball and with shot selection, and crashing the boards; basically Portland needs to play like their last four games happened to some other team. This Blazer team is capable of playing good basketball, and they need to remember that.
What to Watch For
- Will the Blazers show up. This is the only thing that matters. Match-ups, adjustments, scoring runs, shooting droughts, all that will be irrelevant if Portland fails to make their presence known for the fifth straight game. Pride is on the line Saturday, but it’s been on the line every night since losing to the Pistons and that hasn’t seemed to make any difference. I’m betting the Blazers do show up, and that they leave Cleveland with the kind of win that can restore a little bit of the faith that has been lost through the first week of this trip. But as I said before, I am easily fooled.